Bad Lit via Uptown: A Natural Expansion of the Film Blogging Loop

From Uptown Magazine June 2, 2010

He likes us! He really likes
Mike Everleth of leading underground website Bad Lit discusses what makes the Winnipeg indie film scene special

If we Winnipeggers didn’t struggle with feelings of inadequacy, we might find some praise almost embarrassing.

Take the gushings of Mike Everleth, the man behind the American website Bad Lit: The Journal of Underground Film (Pictured above between Jeff Krulik and Craig Baldwin). In an August 2010 post, the critic, film programmer and former researcher for the American Film Institute wrote that Winnipeg “has an incredibly rich and diverse filmmaking community.”

It’s safe to take his word for it. The L.A. resident has over a decade’s experience writing, editing and producing content for major entertainment websites such as Movies.com and IFILM.com. Just last year, he became a member of the Online Film Critics Society.

Uptown talked with Everleth about his perspective on the local indie film scene.

Uptown: What is it about our humble city and its auteurs that warrant the attention you’ve given them?

Everleth: The goal of Bad Lit is to spotlight films and filmmakers that aren’t written about on other movie websites and blogs. When I stumbled onto the Winnipeg scene, it was like discovering Atlantis.

In New York, Chicago and San Francisco, the avant-garde, experimental and indie film scenes are fairly well covered, although underground film overall gets short shrift by movie websites. But even in this subculture, I rarely if ever read anything about the Winnipeg scene. So I feel it’s part of my job to help bring it more attention.

And the quality of work from Winnipeg is, to me, astounding. It’s extremely creative, diverse and prolific. I’m constantly finding new films that I want to share and write about.

A trend I see in the work of several Winnipeg filmmakers is strong and inventive reworking of both found and new footage, often with a combination of odd respect and ironic detachment. I focus on filmmakers that don’t have a lot of money, and Winnipeg films have an intense spirit of “working with what ya got” without pretentions that makes them fun and creative. While I don’t know too much about the city’s history, K-Tel Records and Hunky Bill’s Perogie Maker sound like things that, if Winnipeg hadn’t invented them, Guy Maddin would have filmed a fake history about their creation.

Uptown: We have our theories about why our arts (and specifically film) scene is what it is. What’s your take?

Everleth: That’s really a great question that I haven’t figured out yet, mainly because I haven’t studied the Winnipeg film scene’s historic evolution. But what I have seen is that there’s a real closeness and genuine support among Winnipeg filmmakers.

I’m starting to wonder, however, if the cold weather is an influence. Some films are straight-up animation, others are heavily manipulated, and some are combinations of both, all of which require intensive work indoors.

Uptown: Whom would you cite as some of the city’s best filmmakers?

Everleth: Clint Enns has been my gateway into the Winnipeg scene and I’m always just amazed at how much he produces while really experimenting with his style.

The same goes for Heidi Phillips, whom I was mostly familiar with for her lovely, short, hand-manipulated found-footage films – but then she made the longer, haunting original The Last Harvest that totally stunned me for its inventive ghostly images and powerful emotion.

Two of my absolute favourite Winnipeg filmmakers are Jaimz Asmundson and Leslie Supnet. Jaimz’s most recent short, The Magus, about his artist father C. Graham Asmundson, is one of the best films I’ve seen yet this year. It’s absolutely stunning. Also, I’ve tried my damnedest to make Jaimz’s music video Goths! On the Bus! a viral hit online.

And I just adore Leslie’s simple, – sweet and many times – sad animation style. Her Animated Heavy Metal Parking Lot is an instant classic.

Then there’s the exploitation film collective Astron-6, which seems like a total Winnipeg anomaly, particularly since they focus on genre films and all original material. But, if you watch Steve Kostanski’s amazing horror short Heart of Karl, or his fake trailer Lazer Ghosts 2, there’s that Winnipeg scrappy lo-fi inventiveness.

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~ by cineflyer on June 2, 2011.

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